Lessons Learned from 2020

Once in a very great while, there comes a year in the economy and the markets that serves as a tutorial—in effect, an advanced class in the principles of successful long-term, goal-focused investing. 2020 was such a year. 

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This Time Really Isn’t Different

Anytime the blended price of America’s 500 largest companies (S&P 500) drops by 34%, you know that there is something significantly wrong going on. This is the fourth time we have experienced this magnitude of decline in my thirty-four year career and every time such an event comes around, we tend to surmise that, “this time it is different”. We conclude this because the details of each crisis are fundamentally different from anything we have before faced.

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Opportunities in a Market Decline

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” - Winston Churchill

As I watch the emotional reaction of investors during market turbulence, I concur with Churchill as I see individual investors categorize themselves into two separate camps. They are either victims or they are opportunists.

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